Father of four dies in special ops drill
A member of the Defence Force Special Operations Force died during a counterterrorism training exercise in the waters off the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula.
It is understood the special ops soldier Sergeant Wayne Taylor, a father of four, fell about 5 metres and broke his neck during the operation involving a container ship near Channel Island in the Hauraki Gulf early on Friday.
A witness described seeing three military-grade inflatable boats full of black-clad military personnel carrying assault rifles land on the shores of Port Jackson, at the tip of the peninsula, as dawn broke. ‘‘We got woken up when three inflatable RIBS came onshore, they came hurtling in,’’ the man, who did not wish to be named, said.
‘‘We thought at first it was an exercise as they were working on someone on the shore – they were letting off flares and smoke and everything. It was quite scary as they were all dressed in black
and carrying assault rifles.’’ About 20 personnel wearing black military issue gear jumped out, bringing the injured officer ashore.
They began rotating CPR on the man on the beach.
‘‘There was a whole stack of them.
‘‘They would do a couple of minutes of chest compressions then the next lot would take over.
‘‘They just kept going and going and going.
‘‘The next thing the helicopter came in ... it was the rescue helicopter and I thought, oh s***.’’
The helicopter dropped paramedics on to the beach before going on to land at the campground.
Paramedics continued working on the man with a defibrillator for about an hour, he said.
He said the personnel seemed shaken, and upset.
After about an hour and a half, the ambulance and helicopter left the scene, followed by the RIBS which headed south.
The New Zealand Defence Force confirmed Taylor’s death. ‘‘The next of kin have been informed, and a family liaison officer has been assigned,’’ an NZDF spokesperson confirmed.
Taylor joined the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment as a member of the Army Reserve in 1993, joining the Regular Force in October 1997. He served in East Timor and Afghanistan.
‘‘Many of the Regiment, both RNZIR and NZSAS, will remember him as an outstanding soldier, leader, father, family man, and friend to many, as well as being an all-round top bloke,’’ army chief Major General Peter Kelly said. ‘‘He was a consummate professional, who was known for his dedication and reliability – always upholding our core values in every endeavour. I know that his family, friends and workmates will be keenly feeling the loss of a husband, father and friend.
‘‘My thoughts are with them all over the coming days and weeks.’’
The soldier’s family are being supported by members of New Zealand Special Operations Force and the New Zealand Army.
Police are investigating on behalf of the coroner.